Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Ingredient

Currants

Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

What is it?

Related to the gooseberry, currants can be either red (the Ribes rubrum species), white (an albino cultivar of Ribes rubrum), or black (Ribes nigrum). Black currants are sweetest, then white, and then red, which tend to be tart. Red currants are bracingly tart and a bit sweet, like a sugar-kissed cranberry. They’re consumed in their cooked form more often than fresh. The sweeter black currants are made into liqueurs, cordials, candies, jams, jellies and syrups and are most popular. Both red and black also lend themselves well to savory dishes, as their sweet-tart flavor provides a pleasant contrast. They are in season from June through August. Don’t confuse them with dried currants, which are actually not currants at all, but rather dried zante grapes from Greece.

Native to northern Europe, currants grow best in areas with cold winters and warm, humid summers. Colonists brought the berries to New England, but the plant was banned and eradicated in the United States in the early 1900s because it hosted a fungus detrimental to pine trees. Restrictions were gradually lifted starting in the mid-1960s, and many home gardeners began growing currant bushes. But it’s only been in the last decade or so that they’ve become widely available in the United States.

How to choose:

Red, black, and white currants are available at farmers’ and specialty markets as well as some well-stocked grocery stores from June through August. Look for currants on the stem that are firm, translucent, shiny, and bright in color (red, pinkish-white, or purple-black). The berries are likely to break open when removed from their stems, so it’s best to leave them on until you’re ready to eat them.

How to prep:

With their sweet, sour, and slightly woodsy herbal notes, currants taste great on their own or with just a sprinkle of sugar. They also work well in both sweet and savory dishes. Try red currants crushed in a light vinaigrette or in a more robust sauce, such as Cumberland sauce (a British classic with currants, port wine, orange, ginger, and vinegar), for rich, roasted meats like lamb, venison, and duck. Whole currants can be added to muffins or quick breads, or used in pie filling, ice cream, or sorbet, either on their own or with other fruits and berries. Currants on the stem, either frozen or frosted with egg whites and sugar, are a beautiful garnish. And because of their high pectin content, currants make great jams, jellies, and relishes.

How to store:

Currants can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for several months. To freeze them, arrange unstemmed currants in a single layer and freeze for about 3 hours. Once they’re frozen, remove them from the stems and put them in freezer bags. Frozen currants are also available year-round at specialty markets.

    Recipes

  • Recipe

    Sausage with Red Cabbage and Apples

    Fully cooked sausages are a great choice for speedy weeknight dinners. Pair them with red cabbage braised in beer plus vinegar, cloves, and red currant jelly for your own mini…

  • Recipe

    Red Berry Summer Pudding with Vanilla Malt Ice Cream

    An uptown take on a retro American diner combo—berry pie and a vanilla malted—this classic English no-bake dessert paired with slightly earthy, toasty vanilla malt ice cream is perfect for…

  • Recipe

    Roasted Indian-Spiced Vegetables and Chickpeas with Raisins

    This quick and easy vegan entrée is economical and crowd-pleasing. Seek out garam masala (Indian spice blend) without salt, and prep the other ingredients while the potatoes roast.

  • Recipe

    Sweet & Sour Spiced Cabbage

    Braising cabbage with butter, apple juice, red currant jelly, and spices gives it amazingly rich flavor (the dish is an essential part of a traditional Scandinavian holiday meal). Leftovers are…

  • Recipe

    Roast Pork with Crisp Crackling & Red Currant Gravy

    Pork is especially popular in Denmark, where it’s the centerpiece of our Christmas table. Be sure to offer everyone some of the fragrant onion-orange stuffing and crunchy crackling along with…

  • Recipe

    Carrot-Spice Bread

    If you like carrot cake you'll love this sweet, tender quickbread, which is loaded with grated carrots, dried currants, and warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom.

  • Recipe

    Red Currant Jelly

    The season for red currants is fleeting, but you can make it last by making Kevin West's sweet-tart jelly.

  • Recipe

    Red Currant and Ginger Sorbet

    A splash of ruby port helps deepen this sorbet’s beautiful bright pink color and adds some sweetness to complement the tart berries. The pectin in the currants makes the sorbet…

  • Recipe

    Charmoula Lamb Chops with Curried Couscous

    Charmoula, a traditional Moroccan marinade, is typically made with parsley, cumin, and paprika. This kicked-up version features smoked paprika and lots of other fresh herbs. Here, it's used to flavor…

  • Recipe

    Raspberry-Currant Linzer Torte

    If possible, use homemade jam for this dessert, named for the Austrian city of Linz. Raspberry or currant would be the classic choice; I have included instructions for a quick…

Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments

  • bob_bob | 08/14/2017

    I am very disappointed in this article. Dried currants are small raisins and I was hoping for more related to red and black currants.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Topping, VA (409)

Pete welcomes us to Virginia on this episode of Moveable Feast, where we meet skilled oystermen Ryan & Travis Croxton, as well as chef Dylan Fultineer. Dylan brings Pete to…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks